The Gin Game
Closed 2h 15m
The Gin Game
80

The Gin Game NYC Reviews and Tickets

80%
(206 Reviews)
Positive
83%
Mixed
14%
Negative
3%
Members say
Great acting, Entertaining, Funny, Delightful, Absorbing

About the Show

Tony winners James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson return to Broadway in this Pulitzer winner about strangers who become friends over gin rummy, until their games become a battleground of exposed failures and insecurities.

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Member Reviews (206)

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55
Banal, Slow, Insipid, Disappointing, Tyson's a wonder

See it if you want to see the dazzling Tyson, altho the material is far beneath her. This is a stupid play. And Jones didn't improve it.

Don't see it if I was bored and frustrated. JEJ plays a bully. Nothing funny or charming or revelatory here. So disappointing. Why revive this clunker???

80
Delightful, Great acting, Great writing, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if great beloved actors. Amazing performances. She's 90!! The issues are timeless

Don't see it if if you don't like slower plays

Critic Reviews (40)

The New York Times
October 14th, 2015

"Despite its comic overtones, 'The Gin Game' presents a clarifying portrait of the loneliness that may come with age, and the difficulties of forging a relationship when our personalities have quite naturally become calcified by experience. As the moving performances of Mr. Jones and Ms. Tyson bear out, playing the hands we are dealt with equanimity is much easier when we are still sure that there will be many more hands to play."
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Time Out New York
October 14th, 2015

"D.L. Coburn’s play was a hit in 1976, but it’s thin as a needle, with a sharp point at the end on which its poignancy relies. Leonard Foglia’s revival lacks that sense of purpose in its shape. The age of the actors perhaps makes them slower and cuter than might be ideal; the result is likable but shambling. In gin, after all, having a king and queen in your hand is not enough to win; they need to be built into a sequence. That sense of order is not in these cards."
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New York Magazine / Vulture
October 14th, 2015

"Whether Jones and Tyson are having memorization problems I cannot say, but the production is so lame and misguided (by the director Leonard Foglia) you would almost prefer that they suddenly started ad libbing selections from far better work each of them has done. As it is, they stick at least to the outlines of the script."
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The Hollywood Reporter
October 14th, 2015

"D.L. Coburn's two-hander is so slight it might almost evaporate as it's unfolding...What keeps the slender piece engaging is the delicate dance between Jones and Tyson...Foglia leans heavily on the humor, perhaps dimming some of the more emotionally affecting notes and making the shift into sobering home truths and self-recriminations somewhat abrupt. But there's no denying the crowdpleasing pleasure of watching these two masterful actors."
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Variety
October 14th, 2015

"It’s true what they say about bona fide stars like Cicely Tyson and James Earl Jones — they could indeed hold us spellbound simply by reading the New York telephone book. Not that 'The Gin Game' is as insubstantial as the contents of the phone book. But despite having won the 1978 Pulitzer Prize in Drama, this two-hander really is a slip of a thing, elevated to dramatic art by captivating Broadway performances from two of the most enchanting actors you’d ever hope to see on the same stage."
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The Wall Street Journal
October 15th, 2015

"Light on tragedy and heavy on comedy—at least in this version—it’s an infallible vehicle for two aging stars who can lay on the charm...Unfortunately, Leonard Foglia, the director, seems not to understand that there’s more to 'The Gin Game' than jokes...The results are hard to resist, but too soft-edged to bring true tears."
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Deadline
October 16th, 2015

"Under Leonard Foglia’s sensitive direction, the actors give their all to an almost-good play...Jones is more tentative here than usual, more halting in his speeches, more brittle than we expect Weller to be. Several exchanges faltered because of that, losing the snap necessary, and as a result, the play seemed even more schematic and predictable than I’d remembered. Still, there’s great pleasure in seeing these two masters duking it out over a card table. Call it a straight flush, if not quite a royal one."
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New York Daily News
October 14th, 2015

"Under Leonard Foglia’s direction, Tyson and Jones hit all the right notes of charming, amusing, ornery and scary. Along the way Jones and Tyson hold you, like the cards, in the palm of their hands."
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AM New York
October 14th, 2015

"'The Gin Game' is a nice little play about an unlikely friendship, and Leonard Foglia's revival is generally pleasant. Showing strong chemistry, Jones and Tyson make fine sparring partners. With pitch-perfect delivery, Jones digs into every line with fervor, booming bombast and an endearingly cranky spirit, while Tyson has a warm presence and navigates her character's dramatic moments with aplomb."
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NY1
October 16th, 2015

"It’s not exactly a great play but author D.L. Coburn did pen a couple of great roles. I'm happy to report the revival has yet another pair of aces up its sleeve...What makes 'Gin Game' such a treat is watching these two consummate veterans deliver incredibly calibrated performances in what must be a very difficult play for actors of any age...I cannot say enough about Jones and Tyson. Despite their advanced age, on the big stage, they are eternally young!"
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Theatermania
October 14th, 2015

"Critics have contended that 'The Gin Game' is a gimmick that relies too much on such memorably starry performances. The acting really is magnificent but Leonard Foglia's smart direction helps to draw out Coburn's underlying themes, proving this play to be much more than a mere card trick...'The Gin Game' is a not-to-be-missed theatrical event, not just for the opportunity to witness two living legends at work, but to see them put their craft toward a story that really matters in 2015 America."
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BroadwayWorld
October 14th, 2015

"If 'The Gin Game' is a little thin on plot to fill out its two acts, it serves splendidly as a star vehicle for beloved senior actors. There's nothing unexpected about the performances of Tyson and Jones, but they play their hands beautifully and when the script calls for them to hesitantly hold each other in a slow dance, there's not an unmelted heart in the house."
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Lighting & Sound America
October 14th, 2015

"Jones and Tyson are giving such confident, entertaining performances, not until very late does it becomes apparent that they are not really playing 'The Gin Game...' The big question is if audiences will be sufficiently amused by the graveside vaudeville of Leonard Foglia's production to forgive the fact that it falls apart in the final scene...There is a much more mordant play lurking inside, one that brings its character to a stunningly bleak conclusion."
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Talkin' Broadway
October 14th, 2015

"The magic of people like Jones and Tyson comes from their ability to keep your gaze on them even when little else around them does. Even if the rest of 'The Gin Game' stalls, at delivering that essential theatrical element, Jones and Tyson are an unvarnished success."
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Theater Pizzazz
October 18th, 2015

"It’s safe to say that there will not be a better performance than what Jones and Tyson present here. It’s said that great actors working together is like watching a fine tennis match. Perhaps from now on, we should say it’s like a superb gin game."
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CurtainUp
October 15th, 2015

"The play hasn't aged all that well. The reliance on the repeated gin games to serves as a sort of onion to peel away the players' true personalities and situations with each deal has always been somewhat too schematic. And it seems more so than ever...Too bad that Leonard Foglia couldn't have brought it all in closer to the movie's 87 minutes."
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Stage Buddy
October 15th, 2015

"What a joy to be alive in a time when we can see acting titans James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson onstage together! Their mano a mano in 'The Gin Game' is among the most electrifying in recent theatre...Expertly directed by Leonard Foglia, this production is notable for its sparseness...The play never tries to preach or teach lessons, but to serve as foreshadowing, a cautionary tale even."
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Broadway Blog
October 14th, 2015

"The verdict? It’s wonderful. Reunited almost 50 years after sharing the Broadway stage, the two friends are back together in this poignant and funny two hander that is sure to please the most finicky theatergoer...Leonard Foglia’s direction is as first rate as his cast. I doubt that I will be the only critic to call them theatrical 'treasures', but I’m pretty sure that if I look up the word in a thesaurus, I’ll see the names James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson.”
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C
November 17th, 2015

"A moderately successful production…It’s Jones who anchors the show, especially gripping at depicting Weller as a broken man with a fierce temper who uses cards to try to numb the pain. Tyson, however, is too gentle and likable a presence for a character that’s supposed to be a cantankerous shrew...As a result, director Leonard Foglia’s production leans a little too heavily on the play’s comedic elements at the expense of its bitterness."
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Theatre's Leiter Side
October 18th, 2015

"Despite it being obvious that Weller and Fonsia need each other, Mr. Coburn finds obstacles to their realizing this; his plotline may be thin, his material may seem repetitive, he could trim the running time a bit, and his ending isn’t satisfactory, but the playwright’s skill at keeping the dramatic ball in the air as the characters work out their issues keeps the audience sharply focused over the course of two acts and nearly two hours. Like it or not, that alone makes a visit worthwhile."
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DC Theatre Scene
October 14th, 2015

"The two characters in 'The Gin Game' do little more than play card games and, once, (spoiler alert) dance. But they’re portrayed by James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson – with some 130 years of acting experience between them – and that’s enough to turn this Broadway revival into a stellar outing at the theater."
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The Guardian (UK)
October 15th, 2015

"'The Gin Game' is not a very good play. It may have won the Pulitzer Prize, but it as creaky as the dilapidated assisted living facility in which it is set. Yet when actors as fine as James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson are interested, producers beg to be dealt in...Coburn’s view of human life is condescending and dyspeptic. He finds it for the most part, nasty, brutish and long. Bitter stuff. But these actors, even before the wide and irrepressible smiles they unfurl at the curtain call, make it almost sweet."
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The Huffington Post
October 14th, 2015

"If you think you're about to hear anything critical of the two old pros James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson, you better think again. They're well nigh perfect...The play is no worse for wear. Whether it was ever a flawless piece of writing is less certain...By the time the second act ends, it's become too much a repetition of the first."
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The Wrap
October 14th, 2015

"In the case of 'The Gin Game,' did Leonard Foglia just stay out of the way and let two pros go at it? Whatever, it works. What doesn’t work (except as an excuse to watch two pros go at it) is Coburn’s play. Since Tyson’s continual winning at cards can’t sustain one act, much less two, Coburn introduces some family conflicts that are more forced than a reality TV script."
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Newsday
October 14th, 2015

"Coburn's slim, deceptively lightweight duet is so hard to wrestle into submission that, in my experience, only the originals - the married team of Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn - turned the leisurely and schematic showcase into a profound meeting of wills and even of magic. The partnership of Cicely Tyson and James Earl Jones comes very close...Directed with leisurely sensitivity by Leonard Foglia, the production lets the balance of powers shift and flow."
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NorthJersey.com
October 15th, 2015

"The great pleasure in the revival of D.L. Coburn’s 1977 two-hander is watching the veteran performers work together with warmth and humor, not missing a beat...The play’s ending, with Weller’s burst of colossal rage and Fonsia’s retreat into loneliness, has always been unsatisfying. In this production, it’s just more so. But that frustration is easily trumped by the production’s great gift of allowing us to see Jones and Tyson perform together."
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WNBC
October 14th, 2015

"Lonesome and raw revival...Jones and Tyson, it will surprise no one, make for lively sparring partners...'The Gin Game,' it turns out, has little to do with cards. Rather, it examines the narratives we fabricate in order to tolerate the relentless sadness that piles up with passing decades."
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DC Metro Theater Arts
October 17th, 2015

"The writing is exemplary, but the cast of two elevates it into the realm of poetry...Leonard Foglia as director has guided all these gifted artists through this two-hander, with the result that we leave the theatre enriched and fully satisfied. More than satisfied, aglow...I highly recommend you plan to visit this home for the aged soon. It will add years to your life."
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NJ.com
October 14th, 2015

"Where this 'Gin Game' stumbles is in its second half, when Coburn's play takes a series of dark turns and the two characters begin mercilessly attacking one another...What should culminate in devastation is played instead as the vaudeville of a couple of eccentric codgers. The result feels a little too much like empty calories; a "Gin Game" that goes down exceedingly easy, but leaves you hungry for real substance."
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The Huffington Post
October 15th, 2015

"Comedy may not all be in the timing, but a large part of it is and James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson give an acting master class in it in a delightful revival of 'The Gin Game...' In the hands of Jones and Tyson, they are simply lost, lonely souls for whom one ends up feeling great sympathy and kinship and wish you could see every Visitor's Day at that old-folks home."
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W
October 18th, 2015

"'The Gin Game' suffers from an unusual problem: James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson share a tender chemistry...But D.L. Coburn's 1977 play doesn't have a sentimental word. And it's funny, certainly, but not romantic. Instead, 'The Gin Game' is a vicious look at the ways we turn on others when our losses pile up and our vulnerabilities are exposed...But as directed by Leonard Foglia, this production never turns into a strategic assault...The result is unsatisfying. Jones and Tyson are worth a better hand."
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Epoch Times
October 20th, 2015

"This play could have easily been written last year, instead of almost three decades ago. Best of all is the way Jones and Tyson beautifully play off each other...The tension in the story rises and falls throughout as Leonard Foglia directs the proceedings with a subtle touch, letting the two stars take command of the piece. Yet Foglia never lets the actors or their personalities overwhelm the characters."
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StageZine
October 16th, 2015

"One doesn’t necessarily see it for content but for the incredible actors and actresses...Leonard Foglia, the director, has matched them well and paced them accordingly to give them characterizations. The new fall season has just started and there are lots of fine actors giving good performances, but I doubt that you will see greater ones than what Mr. Jones and Ms Tyson are displaying."
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The Associated Press
October 14th, 2015

"One thing you should probably not bet against is the little old lady onstage who seems to have supernatural luck with cards. Another is the two-person cast, James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson — actors still performing at the highest level despite their combined age of 174. You might wonder if there's something supernatural at work there, too...Handsome and beautifully acted revival."
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American Theater Web
October 15th, 2015

"Coburn’s gentle play brims with humor...The play also has genuine heart...Watching as these two warily embark on a late life friendship---letting their guards down with one another---proves to be immensely satisfying and touching. Similarly, Leonard Foglia has directed this two-hander with economy and breeziness."
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Drama Queen NYC
October 14th, 2015

"It’s a vehicle, nothing more, nothing less. 'The Gin Game' is a light-weight comedy with just enough emotional fuel in it to ignite when you get two great actors in it. James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson are undeniably great actors, and this 'Gin Game' does indeed ignite, even if it doesn’t quite satisfy...An enjoyable, diverting evening spent with two expert performers, nothing more, nothing less."
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TheaterScene.com
October 24th, 2015

"Director Leonard Foglia has stitched his two star performers into a positively densely woven tapestry of built up laughs, and bitter moments, and just plain bitter, so that you laugh all the harder after you’ve gulped a few times. James Earl Jones is a marvel of hilarity spun out of sadness, and loneliness ,and curmudgeonness, and you ache for him...It’s a funny, funny show. But it’s a heart wringer."
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NY Theatre Guide
October 19th, 2015

"James Earl Jones and Cecily Tyson are an absolute delight as they spar whimsically over their cards. Both getting older themselves, they haven’t lost any theatrical spice...Effortless and sincere, this is a production to be seen, you’ll hardly even realize any time has passed and the curtain call comes almost as quickly as you’ve taken you’re seat. I dare you not to have a pumpkin grin from ear to ear as Jones and Tyson take their curtain call."
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T
October 27th, 2015

"I’m still asking myself a question: Why, despite the fine acting of two legends did I find 'The Gin Game' so uninspiring?... Director Leonard Foglia has keeps the pace going. When dealing with two such experienced actors, it was surely a collaborative effort...The two create some very touching moments – a few minutes of dance, a few memories. But at the end, you feel sorry for them but you are not sure you like either character and you pray to God that you will not end up as they have."
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Center on the Aisle
October 20th, 2015

"D.L. Coburn’s 1978 Pulitzer Prize award winner, 'The Gin Game,' deals another winning hand. For the first time in nearly fifty years, legendary actors James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson are sharing the Broadway stage. The audience’s reception confirms that it’s a timeless play worth rehashing."
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